The Grimthorpe Handicap Chase (Saturday 2 March) is run at Doncaster over a trip of 3 miles 2 furlongs and 1 yard.
The race was first run in 1988 and, due to its position in the calendar, it has always been considered a trial for the Grand National. The Last Samuri was the last winner of the race to perform well in the Aintree spectacle, when finishing second to Rule The World in 2016.
The Grimthorpe Chase was also used as a prep race by the 2004 and 2015 Scottish National winners Grey Abbey and Wayward Prince, but it is very much a decent race in its own right and offers a first prize of over £35,000.
All the last 10 winners of the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase have been aged between eight and 11, with four eight-year-olds, three nine-year-olds, one 10-year-old, and two 11-year-olds being successful.
In terms of ratings and weights carried, the winners in the last decade have fallen into two categories. Seven have been rated between 126 and 136 and have carried between 10-0 and 10-12, whilst the other three have been rated between 149 and 152 and have carried over 11-0.
There have only been two winning favourites in the last 10 years, with The Last Samuri being returned at the shortest SP of 2/1, whilst the odds of seven of the other winners ranged from 100/30 to 15/2. Two outsiders have also won, with Wayward Prince being the longest-priced winner at 25/1.
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Grimthorpe Chase 2019 Leading Contenders
Kim Bailey has trained both the 1994 and 2016 winners of the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase and this eight-year-old novice chaser has won four times already this season. One of those wins was here at Doncaster, and he’s also won at the course over hurdles off a much lower mark. He’s similarly rated and weighted to Bailey’s 2016 winner The Last Samuri but, having not been at his best at Warwick last time, he looks to face a tough task off top-weight.
The form of his third in this season’s Ladbrokes Trophy has worked out quite well but he ran no sort of race when behind Go Conquer here at Doncaster last time. That was the second time he’s run a shocker here and, though he’s a course winner, that victory came in a poor three-runner race. He’s also only a seven-year-old, which is younger than any winner this century.
10-year-old that won here at Doncaster in February but, as that looked a very winnable race, he may struggle to defy his new rating in this sort of class. Before that win, his losing run had stretched back to 2016, including a wide-margin defeat in the 2017 renewal of this race.
This 11-year-old was formerly trained in Ireland and his new trainer Dr Richard Newland has been very patient with him as his big target is the Grand National. His only run so far for his new connections was when winning a hurdle race at Aintree off a much lower rating than he runs off over fences today. However, it’s worth remembering that he was good enough to finish third in an Irish Grand National off a similar mark, when he finished just behind Bless The Wings who placed in last year’s Grand National.
Very capable if inconsistent performer over hurdles and fences, with his best-ever run coming when second to Presenting Percy in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival. However, despite winning a couple of low-profile novice chases, his tendency to make mistakes has hindered his career so far over fences.
Beau Du Brizais
It took this horse nine attempts in handicap chases to break his duck over fences, but he instantly followed that up with another success. However, those two wins and his two hurdles wins have all come on sharp right-handed track. He’s also only seven and he has a career high mark to defy.
11-Year-old that hails from the stable of Neil Mulholland that won the 888SPort handicap Chase at Kempton last week. The handicapper also looks to have given him a chance as he’s now a few pounds lower than when fourth in last season’s Scottish National. That four-mile race again looks to be his primary target for the season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ran on late to snatch a place here.
Rocky’s Treasure and Dingo Dollar are the sort of classy 140+rated horses that have won this race in the past off big-weights and have run against better horses this season. But it’s hard to be confident about either bouncing back to their best after they underperformed last time. Equally, those at the bottom of the weights don’t look particularly unexposed.
That means this year’s renewal of the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase could be another great chance for Richard Newland to showcase his undoubted skill for rekindling the enthusiasm of horses he’s acquired from other trainers, which in this case is Abolitionist. Newland has already shown he can get a win out of him over hurdles and, with the Grand National weights already framed, Abolitionist would probably only have to run up to the form of his third in the Irish Grand National to go very close here.
Grimthorpe Handicap Chase 2019 Free Tip:
Abolitionist (Each-Way) @ 9.00 Bet365, SkyBet, Unibet